Elizabeth is the best friend of Felicity, the Colonial-era American Girl doll who just happens to live in Colonial Williamsburg! Unfortunately, these dolls have been retired by AG, but you can still find the Felicity mini doll on Amazon. (I think the six-inch versions of the AG dolls are fabulous, especially for the historical characters. And at around $15-20 each, much more affordable.) And of course her books are all still available.
If you're planning a trip to Williamsburg with girls, consider picking up one of these dolls as a traveling companion, and maybe watching her movie before coming. (The visitor's center has a little movie you can view before heading out, but it was all a bit over E's head.)
Elizabeth led us on a tour of her hometown, and showed us all the places a kid would like best.
When you purchase/redeem your tickets at the visitor's center, you'll receive a Kids Adventure Map. Kids can get their map punched at numerous (but not all) locations around the town. If they receive a certain number of punches (dependent on their age), they'll get a keepsake pin. The pin is nothing to write home about, but this map is your guide to kid-friendly places around town.
TIP: If you're short on time, skip the Children's Orientation Tour. It's slow and mostly involves a list of rules for touring the buildings and grounds.
This was by far my favorite location in Colonial Williamsburg. Unlike most of the buildings in Williamsburg, this house is a self-paced tour, allowing you to explore the house and grounds at your leisure. Time your visit for early afternoon so your kids can help make lunch in the real working kitchen and then assist in setting the table at 2pm.
In the courtyard you and your kids can try your hand at eighteenth century outdoor games, or go inside and play with dolls or board games in the parlor.
And be sure to explore the garden... taste the pea pods, smell the dill, feed the chickens, and take pictures of the bulls.
Near the Powell House is the Public Gaol, which is a short and fun tour of the jailor's quarters and the prisoners' cells. Definitely worth popping over for.
George Wythe is a fascinating character and his house is a good stop for kids. See how baskets are made, play more outdoor games, and see the sort of experiments George Wythe and his students would have done.
It's a bit of a hike, but try to work in a visit to the Brickyard to see how they made bricks. Kids can jump right in and help churn local clay with their bare feet!
Count on about an hour for this tour, since there is usually a wait, but if you have boys, the Encampment is a must-see. Kids get a chance to tour the encampment as well as train to become revolutionary soldiers.
The Governor's Palace
This isn't on the kid's map, but it's a given... no trip to Colonial Williamsburg is complete without a visit to the Governor's Palace.
The rooms are simply gorgeous and the tour guides on this one are always top-notch.
- Keep an eye out for famous characters wandering around the town. We got to have a chat with Elizabeth's good friend George Washington.
- Plan for lunch. There are very few places to eat right within Colonial Williamsburg. Go ahead and make reservations at Shield's Tavern, or else plan on eating at one of the restaurants in nearby Merchant's Square. There's a bakery behind Raleigh Tavern, and while their gingerbread are definitely worth stopping by, the $7 sandwiches are disgusting.
- Leave the littles at home. If you're able, don't take kids under 5. They're free, but unless you have a really laid-back toddler or preschooler, they won't be happy sitting through tours.
- Come between Thanksgiving and Christmas! If you can only come once, you simply must see Colonial Williamsburg during the Christmas season. The decorations are lovely and the First Night celebration is fun for the whole family.
- Avoid the Peyton-Randolf house. This long tour on slavery during the Colonial period may interest you, but it will bore your children to tears.
And last but not least...
- Buy them a hat! As far as I'm concerned, this is a requirement for any Colonial Williamsburg visit. If you're really into dress up, you can even rent costumes for the kids for $25/day.